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Sunday, April 26, 2020

Interview with Lynn Levin: Poet, Writer, Translator, Professor

Lynn Levin is well known for inspiring creativity in students and writers at all levels. Together with Valerie Fox, she has edited the widely adopted Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets.  In addition, she is known for her quirky, engaging writing that encourages new ways of perceiving and thinking.  Now Lynn has a new collection of poems, The Minor Virtues (2020), published by Ragged Sky Press.

Welcome to an informal chat with Lynn.

1. What is your name and your background?
My name is Lynn Levin, and I am a poet, writer, translator, and an adjunct associate professor of English at Drexel University. I teach composition, creative writing, and literature classes. Before I started teaching, I had a career in advertising.

Lynn Levin

2. How would you describe your writing practice?
I love to describe things in my poems. I think that refreshes and enhances life. I write to think through experience and capture quirky insights, many of them comic. I want to surprise and entertain my readers and myself. My view of the world is like a picture hung on a wall, then set awry by the settling of the house or a mild earthquake. I guess that’s the quirky part. And I want to be understood. Too much obscurity masks feeling and makes the reader’s job a chore.

3. Please share the name of your latest publication.
I am fortunate to have two recent publications. I just published my fifth poetry collection, The Minor Virtues (Ragged Sky Press, 2020), and I recently published, with my co-author Valerie Fox, Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets, Second Edition (Texture Press, 2019).

4. What is The Minor Virtues about? What are some of the main focal points?
The title section of poems, The Minor Virtues section, begins with celebrations of small everyday practices—among them, fixing broken things and buying produce from the marked-down cart—which, when fancifully contemplated, branch into deeper appreciations of life. The other poems in the book look at life from both serious and comic angles. I include a range of poems in both free and formal verse. Thematically, I like to say that my writing is dark with a funny edge or funny with a dark edge.

5. What inspired you to write The Minor Virtues
I wanted to aim for happier and calmer poems, poems that conveyed a love of life even as some of the poems speak of missteps or losses. Overall, I set out with good cheer in mind.

6. Any closing thoughts?
While it is vital that writers speak out against injustice and wrongdoing, I made the conscious decision in this book to tread lightly around those topics and to focus on appreciations, affection, nostalgia, bemusement, and other milder sensibilities

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